Ben Ashworth, head chef and owner of The Boathouse Bar & Restaurant

Essential ingredients:

Maldon sea salt, onions, extra virgin olive oil and Maris Piper potatoes.

First kitchen worked in:

The Queen's Head hotel in Troutbeck 20 years ago.

First dish I prepared:

I started as breakfast chef at the Queen's Head working my way up to chef de partie, senior chef de partie, junior sous and finally sous chef before returning as head chef around 10 years ago. So it was probably a full English breakfast. I also had to make the bread each morning for the day ahead which was usually a lovely fruit, treacle and beer bread. The pub was well known for its slowly braised lamb shanks and its steak and ale cobbler so it wasn’t long before I was preparing those too.

Signature dish:

I wouldn’t say I have a signature dish. Food changes with the seasons so we are always changing our menu. I love using local suppliers. Currently I enjoy cooking roast loin of venison with homemade black pudding, potato pancake, red cabbage, crispy kale, redcurrant and green peppercorn sauce.

Food philosophy:

Keep it simple. Less is generally more. Taste everything. Season, season, season!!

Biggest kitchen disaster:

I remember the power going off one New Year's Eve so we had to do the whole service with no fans and wearing head torches. The kitchen was very hot but we got through it.

My favourite chef:

When I first started out cooking I loved Marco Pierre White and to this day every time I read his autobiography I can’t help but feel inspired. Present chefs that I love to listen to and watch cook are Nathan Outlaw and Tom Kerridge.

My biggest influence:

My biggest influence without a doubt has to be Tony Lones. He was my first head chef at the Queen's Head and while he was there we got our second Rosette for food. At that stage in my career I just wanted to learn everything as fast as possible. I've also always learn new methods and techniques from other chefs I've worked with including Nick Foster at the Drunken Duck Inn, Ambleside, when I was sous chef, and Michael Dodds when I was sous chef at Storrs Hall, Windermere. You never stop learning in this trade.

My favourite meal:

For me a favourite meal is determined not only by the food but the company and the setting. There is nothing I enjoy more than a simple Cornish pasty sat on the quayside at Padstow harbour in Cornwall while listening to the seagulls and smelling the fresh sea air or eating tapas with a nice cold large beer in Lanzarote with my wife and my two young girls. That beats any fine dining experience for me.